Youth Employment Work in Action
This section provides an overview of the preliminary efforts of the Youth Initiative of Adams County (ACYI) Partnership in understanding youth employment, in particular how many young people ages 18-24, live at or above the Self-Sufficiency Standard (earning a self-sufficient wage). This information will then help The Partnership understand where opportunities exist to improve systems as they work to ensure that ALL youth in Adams and Broomfield Counties are employed at a self-sufficient wage.
Why Youth Employment as a Cradle to Career Outcome
The ACYI Partnership has identified a need to better understand what happens to youth after leaving school or receiving a post-secondary credential. It is critical to understand if young people are becoming employed at a wage that allows them to be self-sufficient.
Why Employment at the Self-Sufficiency Standard
The income individuals need to pay basic expenses is higher than living wage and the minimum wage. The Self-Sufficiency Standard is used to capture the true “bare bones” of what individuals need to meet their basic needs, rather than a minimum wage or living wage, which show far less than what is necessary, including housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, taxes, and miscellaneous expenses. This is a shift that is occurring within the state of Colorado to measure the amount needed to be economically self-sufficient.
The Self-Sufficiency Standard is currently used to better understand issues of income adequacy, analyze policy, and help individuals to be self-sufficient.
For example, in Adams County, according to the 2018 Self-Sufficiency Standard, the wage a single adult needs to make to be self-sufficient is $13.11 per hour, or $27,684 per year; this changes upon the addition of a child. A living wage would equate to $12.95 per hour, and a minimum wage would equate to $10.20 per hour.
Determining The Baseline
The baseline provides the Partnership with a starting point from which to gain understanding of what is happening with youth employment in Adams and Broomfield Counties. The overall baseline illustrates the overarching outcome that this Partnership is hoping to improve.
The Partnership was originally hoping to create a baseline based on youth ages 16-24, however discovered challenges with what data is currently available. The data for youth ages 16-24 who are employed at a self-sufficient wage is not collected and reported in a standardized way. As a result, several steps were taken to determine the most objective baseline by considering the following:
Earnings are reported by the following age groups:
- Ages 18-24; OR
- Ages 16 and up (cannot cut off at age 24 or disaggregate the data by age)
- Unemployment rates are also reported using the same age ranges
A team comprised of data experts from ACYI, Adams County Workforce & Business Center, and the City and County of Broomfield determined the baseline as a jumping off point by looking at data for:
- Number of young people ages 18-24 who fell into the self-sufficiency wage bucket
- Poverty status for young people ages 18-24, both employed and unemployed
- These two numbers were calculated from the total population ages 18-24 to determine the percentage of young people ages 18-24 who are employed at a wage that allows them to be self-sufficient.
The team developed this baseline around young people ages 18-24 first because of the accessibility and availability of this data. As data collection and accessibility changes, future data may reflect youth ages 16-17.
The Challenge We Face
Colorado has the ninth fastest population growth in the United States and Adams County is projected to be one of the fastest growing counties in Colorado in both population and employment.
Currently, only 70% of Adams County residents ages 16 and up (approximately 300,000 out of 430,000) are employed at a wage at the self-sufficiency standard. This equates to approximately 130,000 Adams County residents who are not making a wage that allows them to afford their basic needs.
A data baseline for Broomfield County is in the process of being developed.
One out of 10 Adams County residents lives below the poverty line. This includes roughly 5,600 young people ages 18-24. When this data is disaggregated by race and ethnicity, there are clear gaps. 7.2% of Non-Hispanic White residents live below the poverty line in Adams County, compared to 13.6% of Hispanic or Latino residents and almost 1 out of 5 of Black or African American residents.
Why This Matters
Using the Self-Sufficiency Standard reveals a different picture of poverty—most succinctly, that poverty has become working poverty—which in turn compels a reexamination of assumptions about what causes, and therefore, what “cures” poverty.
Economic inequality adversely affects the major levers of opportunity, including education, health, work policies, housing, and asset building. It also strains Colorado’s and the country’s overall economic stability and productivity. According to The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth, opportunity youth ages 16-24 cost taxpayers $93 billion annually in lost revenue and increased social services.
A strong economy will mean good jobs that pay self-sufficient wages, a workforce with the skills necessary to fill those jobs, and enhancing links and removing barriers between those jobs and the workers that need them.
The impact of increasing an individual earning below the Self Sufficiency Standard (SSS). The average wage of workers earning under the self sufficiency standard in Adams County is $13,923. Given that the SSS for one adult in Adams County is $27,684, it will require an additional $13,761. Thus, if 1,000 residents are brought up to the SSS it can be estimated that workers will earn an additional $13,761,346 in wages. This is a positive economic impact on the region and it also creates additional demand for goods and services and thus additional jobs and wages. These impacts (knows as multipliers) are based on increase by industry. Since we do not have a strong link to how they will spend additional earnings, we cannot directly quantify this.
|Average Wage of Workers earning under the Self Sufficiency Standard
|Sustainable Wage for 1 Adult in Adams County||$27,684|
|On average, to bring a person earning below the SSS, one will need to
earn an additional:
|Additional Wages by bringing 1,000 people up to a Self Sufficiency
What Are We Doing About This?
A team from the community, including the Adams County Workforce & Business Center, the City and County of Broomfield, and the Metro North Chamber of Commerce are in the beginning stages of assembling to launch a collective effort, that will be inclusive of all sectors and representative of the community, to increase the number of young people ages 18-24 who are employed at a self-sufficient wage, with the goal of closing disparity gaps in employment in Adams County. The Collaborative Action Network (CAN), will utilize StriveTogether’s outcomes focused approach to:
|Understand the current state by identifying a baseline and key data indicators of youth employment at a self-sufficient wage in Adams County.||Only 64% of young people ages 18-24 in Adams County (approximately 27,700 of 43,000 youth) are making a wage at the self-sufficiency standard. This equates to approximately 15,000 youth who are not making a wage that allows them to afford their basic needs.|
|Develop time bound, measurable targets to improve rates.||Global Target/Results Statement: ALL youth in Adams and Broomfield Counties will be employed at a self-sufficient wage.
Short-Term SMART Target: By 2022, increase the percentage of males of color, ages 18-24, in Adams County who are earning a self-sufficient wage from 36% (≈10,000) to 40% (≈11,000).
|Understand WHY more youth are not employed at a sustainable wage||1. Males of color, educators and employers lack awareness of resources available to support pathway into self-sufficient employment (such as transportation support, clothing, resume, interview support, etc.).
2. Schools are not set up to guide males of color into non-college options/pathways to sustainable employment (such as apprenticeships, trades, etc.).
3. Males of color are not aware of career options that pay self-sufficient wages that do not require a traditional 2-4 year degree. They think you have to go to college to gain skills past high school or GED.
4. There are not enough jobs paying self-sufficient wages.
|Build upon existing strategies and interventions, and identify additional ones that will yield the highest results.||In Development|
Youth, Parent, and Community Voice & Perspective
The Employment CAN will utilize Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGA) to gain insight into the challenges to employment young people are experiencing and also to determine what strategies and interventions are working. TEGAs are young women aged 18-24 who are trained to conduct research via a mobile application, which allows them to serve as digital interviewers, collecting real-time data about their communities in the form of audio, videos and photos, as well as traditional survey data.
Instead of doing focus groups or paper surveys, the Core Team of the Employment CAN is utilizing TEGA to validate the following factors they have identified:
- Males of color, educators and employers lack awareness of resources available to support pathway into self-sufficient employment (such as transportation support, clothing, resume, interview support, etc.).
- Schools are not set up to guide males of color into non-college options/pathways to sustainable employment (such as apprenticeships, trades, etc.).
- Males of color are not aware of career options that pay self-sufficient wages that do not require a traditional 2-4 year degree. They think you have to go to college to gain skills past high school or GED.
- There are not enough jobs paying self-sufficient wages.